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Job interview - La Jolla

I'm going to be in La Jolla for a job interview on Wednesday and Thursday. I need a couple of places for dinner that I can try to get a flavour of what La Jolla has to offer. I'm thinking medium-priced, quirky places that the locals go to, not tourist-traps.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, and perhaps I can return the favour for anyone headed to Baltimore. ;)

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  1. No traps here, all in LJ:

    Bird Rock Cafe
    Burger Lounge
    Bully's
    Harry's Coffee House
    Porkyland
    Wahoo Fish tacos

    8 Replies
    1. re: cstr

      I think in the last year or so, that Porkyland in La Jolla has really declined in quality and exploded in price. It used to be in my weekly lunch rotation, but now it's so mediocre and overpriced that I'd never bother to go back. Three or four years ago, it was the best deal in La Jolla. Now it just sucks. No wonder there are no longer lines out the door during lunch time and it's easy to get a table.

      I've never gotten Wahoo's either. The big pile of bland white rice and their watery black beans have never done it for me.

      1. re: mikec

        Totally agree with every observation. Never got the wahoo thing, tried it once and never went back - we tasted some odd flavors. It could have been an off day but just didn't it was worth the trouble trying to find a parking space.

        As far as Porkyland, they really have tended to disappoint in the last couple of years. Carnitas have seemed a little dry and they keep changing the combos on the menu. We tried to do some takout a could of weeks ago and they were closed at 715pm. I think we are done with that. So sad.

        1. re: mikec

          Boy, are you right about Wahoos and "that pile of bland white rice...etc." If you're going for bad chain "Mexican" you might as well go to Rubios.

          1. re: mikec

            Like most places in LJ or infact most of SD, overpricing is a norm. I used to have Brockton Villa on my rotation, I liked the view and especially the coffee (full bodied) but, with most breakfast items around $10., I think it's way overpriced as well and the quality has deteriorated big time. There are no long lines, like the old days, anymore.

          2. re: cstr

            where is the Bird Rock Cafe? I work down there but cant think of it...

            1. re: butterbutt

              It's on LJ Bvld near the Julian Pie shop. Good java!

              1. re: cstr

                ok wait a minute I work two stores down.. maybe three from the pie shop.. are you talking about the coffee roaster? that is a coffee place ..not a Bird Rock Cafe...or am I missing something?

                1. re: butterbutt

                  Yah, my bad , that's who I was commenting about. I get so tranquilized by the aroma, thay's all I'm focusing on with my morning fix.

          3. Try El Pescador, Girard Gourmet, Rimel's Rotisserie, Pannikin, and the Cheese Shop Deli. You can also eat well at the bar at Roppongi, George's, 910 and Tapenade - both Roppongi and Tapenade also have excellent 50% off happy hour deals.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alice Q

              I second Girard Gourmet

              The owners are lovely and the food is affordable, fresh, and delicious.

              Girard Gourmet is a deli and bakery, greglor, with hot items, sandwiches, soups, deserts, all yummy.

              Some of their produce is grown on their own organic farm out in Julian.

            2. My fav's are; China Chef, El Pescador, Harry's, Bernini's, Come on Down, Carino's, Crab Catcher for Happy Hour, Alfonso's, Whaling Bar, Jose's Court Room, Porkyland's, Spice & Rice, Sushi on the Rock, The Spot and Cafe LaVande.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                Wow, you'd recommend The Spot huh? Maybe I'm missing something, but The Spot seemed to me to be a study in restaurant supply mediocrity.

                1. re: Captain Jack

                  Yeah, I know..I do miss when Jerry used to own it..
                  They do have a great burger and a couple of other items and I don't stray from that.

                  1. re: Captain Jack

                    Funny, I was gonna say the same thing. We ate there once, when my family first moved to San Diego in 1985, and never felt the need to go back.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Hey Josh..
                      Since 85? Your knowledge of the food scene in SD qualifies you, imho, as a local!
                      I knew throwing the Spot out there might get a few flames thrown my way.. ;)

                      1. re: Josh

                        It's called "The Splotch" for a reason! ;-)

                  2. You didn't mention which part of La Jolla. Are you going to be down near the water? Or up near UCSD?

                    If you're near UCSD and the UTC shopping center, then I'd suggest Wired Cafe on Town Center Drive. It's a cool French bistro, and the food is quite nice and unpretentious.

                    If you're by the water, in downtown La Jolla, then you've gotten a lot of good suggestions.

                    I'd third Girard Gourmet, and second El Pescador and George's, though be advised that El Pescador doesn't have much in the way of seating. Also, for mid-priced and casual, you want George's bar, not the downstairs dining room. Downstairs is dressier, and quite a bit more expensive.

                    Alfonso's is also pretty decent for Americanized Mexican food, and has been there for decades.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: Josh

                      Thanks, all! Great suggestions. FYI, I'm interviewing near UCSD, (biotech) so I'm thinking Wired Cafe after the interview.

                      I'll likely spend Wed evening near the beach.

                      Thanks again!

                      1. re: greglor

                        Yeah if you're up in that area, you'll not want to drive far I'm guessing. It's kind of a madhouse.

                        1. re: greglor

                          The casual restaurant at the Torrey Pines Lodge down by the golf course is right there by the biotech businesses, and has good casual food - you park to the right of the hotel and follow the sidewalk down to the left instead of going through the front door. They have an excellent burger.

                          Wired is ok, but not super close, it's over near the 805 freeway, quite a ways down Genessee. The food's good, but I'm not sure it's worth searching out. Just my .02.

                          1. re: Alice Q

                            Interesting, I always feel it's the other way around - the casual restaurant at the Torrey Pines Lodge is ok but nothing special whereas Wired is more interesting. Just my .02
                            BTW, there are also many biotech companies close to UTC (even more than at Torrey Pines)

                            1. re: honkman

                              I like the simplicity and unpretentiousness of Wired's food and presentation. We don't have enough casual French bistros, IMO. One of my favorite things at Wired is on the breakfast/lunch menu, the ratatouille crepe with salted plain yogurt. I also had a really nice steak dinner there, and I love the fact they serve Unibroue beers. The Blanche de Chambly is such a great food beer.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Ok, maybe I need to give it another look. Last time I had dinner there was about a year ago. I know the food is generally pretty good - think the chef is the former chef of Bernardo O's or something like that? It just kind of bugs me that it seems like they can't decide if they want to be a restaurant or a coffee house - it used to be just coffee, then it was coffee by day, bistro by night, and now I guess it's bistro all the time? Anyways, as I said it was just my .02 - didn't mean to diss it.

                                1. re: Alice Q

                                  It's not gonna set the world on fire, certainly. It's just a relaxed bistro. I know they do breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I wouldn't describe it as a destination place by any means. When I lived in the area it was a good go-to spot if I wanted something easy and local.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    You can order from the lunch menu at dinner time. Many times I have gone for crepes or an omelet after 6 p.m.

                                    Then again, I usually just want the cheese platter and a glass of wine. All for myself.

                                  2. re: Alice Q

                                    For years, I had simply assumed that "Wired" meant it was an Internet cafe (though that would make little sense if it used wireless, right?). [insert some sort of "stupid" emoticon here]

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      I made the same assumption. They have no internet service at all. I guess they just meant the effects of the coffee.

                                    2. re: Alice Q

                                      Overall I think the lunch and breakfast menu is better than the dinner menu. So perhaps you should try to go for lunch. I really like their quiches.

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        Funny, their quiches are lower on my list of favorites. I like the panini, the crepes, and the salads. Vive la difference.

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          I like quiches in general and this is the only place in UTC where you can get good ones. Do you know any other good places for quiches (anywhere in SD). ?

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            I like the ones at Girard Gourmet better than Wired. Otherwise I'm at a bit of a loss on that. I used to make my own. The dough is dead simple to do in a Cuisinart.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              Probably why you don't like the quiches here, Josh. They make the dough with filo. I do like the spinach mushroom and spinach salmon ones at wired...

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                Yeah, the crust always seems greasy and too soft.

                          2. Many great suggestions but a couple of places mentioned close fairly early and/or are not really "sit down dinner" places - Harry's Coffee Shop, Porkyland, Wahoo fish tacos, and El Pescador (although it is one of my favs for a lunch time fish sandwich). I second (or third?) George's (Bar level), Roppongi bar, Rimels, Tapenade, Jose's (a local's favorite dive mexican joint), 9-10 and the Whaling Bar (because it is our favorite bar and we love the guys that work there).

                            I would also add that Jacks and Vigalucci's have incredible happy hour prices in very nice settings. Karl Strauss brewery is friendly for a quick bite, and the new Whisk 'n Ladle next door seems to have really caught on. Sushi on the rock has also added a new location on the second floor above The Spot on Prospect. It's a beautiful space and probably won't be as crowded as the original location on Girard. Last suggestion, Azul in the bar for HH, a large selection of mediteranean-type tapas in a beautiful setting.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: foodiechick

                              Karl Strauss brewery has a very good selection and beer, Tapenade is wonderful and has a great happy hour discount dinner, Spice and Rice for Thai, Wahoo fish tacos, sushi on the rock. If you are by LJ shores, Piatti is nice for Italian and has a cute outdoor courtyard to dine in. I like Girard Gourmet for lunch or now, Lean and Green for a great organic lunch--I think they are open for dinner but not late.

                            2. Surprised that Wok on Pearl wasn't mentioned. It's easy, good and reasonable.